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  • Writer's pictureRachel Pierman

Fear or Regret? Which is worse?

I always find it a bit tough to get through January and February. Once the Christmas decorations are down and the bills start to arrive, life can feel a bit dull. Sometimes, I struggle with depression, or what Winston Churchill referred to as "the black dog". Thankfully, I have some tools to help me overcome it. Depression can't get its teeth into me like it used to, I'll talk about the tools I use in another post. One thing that helps me regain my balance is focusing on things that bring me joy instead of dwelling on sadness. Yesterday, I was looking through some photos on my phone and came across some happy memories from a family holiday in Turkey back in 2018. I found a picture of myself taking a leap of faith, which inspired me to share a thought with you today about fear and regret...

Fear or regret? Which is worse? These two words were running through my head as I stood on a platform overlooking the stunning Turkish sea. The water was crystal clear blue and everyone around me (including kids about 45 years younger than me) were jumping off the platform, which was only about six feet high but felt like 50 feet to me. I desperately wanted to do it, but no matter how hard I tried to summon up the courage, I just couldn't get myself over the edge. The fear kept getting louder and louder, what if something went wrong? What if a shark appeared out of nowhere? What if I breathed in at the wrong moment and choked on the salty water? I knew that none of these things were going to happen. Fears are just made-up stories in our heads that get overblown, (unless there is a real threat facing us, in which case I think that's more fear mixed with rationality and intuition) they're our pride and ego talking to us in the form of fear. Our egos don't want to see us look foolish or do the wrong thing, so it's important to 'keep us in our lane'. Keep doing what we've always done, which means we never learn or grow as people.

It was at that moment a plane flew overhead and I imagined myself on that plane in a couple of days looking down at that sea thinking, why didn't I make that jump? I knew I would be filled with regret and I knew it would linger. Every time I thought of that sea I would be having a "woulda shoulda, coulda" moment. My husband, who was sat patiently after he had jumped in a million times said, "Rachel, it's fine, you don't have to do it"! I looked at him, took my flip flops off and well...kinda went for it! I can't explain what happened, something inside of me just took over and I jumped into that sea - (actually I wouldn't say 'jumped', I kind of took a few steps and fell!) It felt like something pushed me, or pulled me into that water, an invisible ancestor who had been through so much worse and said "Enough of this nonsense, you're going in!"

I distinctly remember the feeling of sheer exhilaration as I headed into the sea. It wasn't because I had executed an award-winning Tom Daley-style leap, but because I had gathered the courage to make that leap of faith. The fact that I did not land gracefully with my feet together, and do a backflip on the way, was secondary. I had conquered my fear, and that was all that mattered. I was still laughing to myself as I walked out onto the beach, feeling ecstatic. I wanted to tell every passerby that I had done it, I had conquered my fear! A shark hadn't got me! That invisible boulder didn't magically appear! I hadn't breathed in at the wrong moment" The best thing? I did it another three times that day, and the next day, the last day of my holiday!

A few days later, on my departure from Turkey, as I looked down at the place where I had jumped, I felt so proud of myself for overcoming my fear. I made a vow to face my fears in the future." There was no fear now, I couldn't remember why I was filled with fear and there was certainly no regret!

Although this is a holiday story, it's a metaphor for our lives and the challenges we encounter. Those challenges are really opportunities. So whatever that thing is that you are afraid of doing, such as applying for a job, completing a project, or writing a book, try to overcome that fear by remembering the fear is just your ego talking, and it's all made up stories we tell ourselves. None of us know what the future holds or how things will work out, so how does our fear know it's going to go wrong? It doesn't matter where the train is going, it's just that you have to jump on.

Fear is temporary, it always goes. However, if you miss an opportunity due to listening to your fears, the regret will take its place and stay with you for a much longer time. If it's a deep regret from missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the regret will become deafening. You may not get another chance.

My advice, for what it's worth is to try. Go towards that goal (just one step at a time) and remember, it doesn't matter how it ends up. It doesn't matter what the result is. You don't get the job? So what? Try another. The book doesn't get published. So what? Did you learn from the experience of writing it? No one will think you're a fool, they will probably have a deep-found respect for you facing your fear and reaching out, or trying at the very least. Overcoming that ego and pride and being vulnerable is the biggest strength we can all have. You'll forever keep yourself inside the box that you desperately want to climb out of if you keep listening to fear.

Keep trying. Keep jumping,

Finally... keep your legs closed when you hit the water! ouch!

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Jan 23

Thanks Rachel for those words of encouragement! I’m dealing with a fear right now. My fear is being in a large group especially when there are people I don’t know. I’m sure it is the introvert in me. I just need to take the first step to come out of my comfort level and overcome my fear.

Rachel Pierman
Rachel Pierman
Jan 24
Replying to

You are most welcome Dawn. I would say you have taken the first step already because you have acknowledged your fear and you want to do something about it, that is a step in the right direction. I would say a couple of things: most people in this world are nice, and also want to meet new people, so if you do put yourself into a place to meet new people, you will find you meet some great ones!

The second thing is that a lot of people are also as nervous as you, so always remember when you're standing there feeling nervous, it's very likely someone in your close facility is also feeling the same.

You are a wonderful…

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